A Further Perspective

Tough Time to Be a Woman

Where would we be without the Sinisterhood?

By 10.11.12

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This is a tough time to be a woman. I watched in fear as Romney was down by double digits with women. I wondered, would women be the reason for an Obama victory? Then, came the magnificent debate performance by Romney and an anxious wait for the new polling results.

Relief! The Pew Poll released after the shellacking received by the President showed a 15 percentage point swing in Romney’s favor among women, with 51 percent supporting Obama and 48 percent supporting Romney. Then came a more recent poll showing the candidates tied, 47 to 47, among women. It’s been fun to read the hysteria sweeping the punditocracy, such as this from Andrew Sullivan, "Seriously: has that kind of swing ever happened this late in a campaign? Has any candidate lost 18 points among women voters in one night ever?"

Er, yes, apparently. Thank God for women who actually watched the debates! Now we sit on the eve of another debate, a real manicured nail-biter. With Ryan up to bat next in the Veep debate, can we get four more percentage points, in order to avoid four more years?

As a conservative who happens to be a woman, I stand in amazement at inane statements such as that issued by 51 percenter Stephanie Cutter, Deputy Campaign Manager for Obama, saying women don't care about what happened the last four years, we're just conveniently fixated on more hope and change to come in the next four years. Hmmm… so the lowest workforce participation in decades, downgrading of our credit rating as a nation, upgrading of the terrorist threat with a dead Ambassador and the black flag of al Qaeda flying on U.S. embassy soils throughout the Maghreb is not supposed to worry our pretty little heads? She fervently hopes! Even with the unemployment rate moving down to 7.8 percent, it's still an anemic recovery at best, and the fiscal cliff and a future of austerity looms for women and men alike.

So what is it I'm supposed to be concerned about? What's the sales pitch to women? The image that these people construct is Woman As Victim. That is, when it's convenient. The women of the left accuse us of a conservative-led "War on Women." From Elizabeth "The Fix Is In" Warren, to Kerry "Voter Suppression" Washington, to Sandra "Pay For My Damn Pills" Fluke, this narrative was on prime time display at the Democrat Convention, and was one that lefty women have reveled in for years. It is bad enough that popular culture from television drama to music videos feature the "woman as victim" and/or "woman as sexual vessel" narrative (think any Law and Order episode and most MTV videos), or that fashion magazines, those great exploiters of women imagery, opine on the so-called War on Women. It is hard for conservative women to endure the spectacle of those who purport to speak on our behalf, wearing it like last millennium's "fashion don't," present us as victims, yet allow women of the right to be maligned and marginalized. I feel like I'm becoming a "hater of lefty women" and this concerns me. I went looking for the Latinization of this condition and discovered that "sinister" is the Latin word for "left." Imagine that. So "sinister-misogyny" it is and I think I'm developing a case. The sisterhood, er, make that Sinisterhood, is making all women look bad.

In my case, this disease has a long incubation period. Imagine the harp music, indicating we're going back, back through the mist of time… bah-ling, bah-ling, bah-linggg...

The Tailhook Scandal
I was on my way to an appointment and heard a news report on the radio about a horrific incident involving sexual harassment of female fighter pilots. I figured someone had been raped, the way the story was reported. When I finally slowed down long enough to read the full story, it turned out a female helicopter pilot had gone to a convention of the Tailhook Association, an independent, nonprofit group of active duty and former Navy aviators, and unfortunately went to the third floor hospitality suites, where the primary focus was on drinking and socializing. The following is from Joslyn Ogden, "Tailhook 91 and then U.S. Navy," Duke University Kenan Institute for Ethics:

One of the mainstays of the third-floor tradition was the formation of "the gauntlet" on Friday and Saturday nights. The gauntlet occurred when large numbers of men, often 22- to 26-year-old junior aviation officers, crowded the hallway waiting for women to walk through. Once a woman walked through she may have been grabbed, pinched, picked up, and groped inappropriately. One aviator commented that the gauntlet "looked like a pinball machine with each guy getting his shot in." Some women willingly and knowingly entered the gauntlet. However, unsuspecting women were also lured in. As one witness described, "the men would quiet down and create an opening in the crowd that unsuspecting women might think to use as a passage way . . . [Then they would be] suddenly surrounded by the gauntlet participants who groped them and prevented their exit." Some women fought back in response; others appeared too drunk to be fully cognizant of what was happening; and others seemed to enjoy it.

One woman who fought back was Lt. Paula Coughlin, a Navy helicopter pilot and aide to Rear Adm. John B. Snyder, commander of the Naval Air Test Center in Patuxent River, Maryland. As soon as she entered the gauntlet, the participants began to chant tauntingly, "admiral's aide, admiral's aide." Against her will, the men picked her up, touched her breasts, and pulled at her underwear. She later stated, "I felt as though the group was trying to rape me."

I am not excusing the behavior, but Lt. Coughlin weakened her own claim of sexual harassment by allowing a male lieutenant to shave her legs in public at this event. Okay, now try to visualize the potential thought bubbles over the heads: Woman -- "shave my legs, but don't think of me as a sexual object"; Man- "leg to thigh to heaven..." As described by Elaine Donnelly in a National Review article, "The Tailhook Scandals," excerpted below:

Lieutenant Rolando Diaz, who shaved women's legs in public, was prosecuted for conduct unbecoming an officer, but three female officers whose legs he shaved were not disciplined on an equal basis. Indeed, one of those three customers, according to Diaz, was none other than Paula Coughlin, who showed her appreciation by signing a banner with "You made me see God. The Paulster." 

Then there's this from the New York Times' October 16, 1993 article, "Tailhook Affair Brings Censure of Three Admirals":

The best-known case, involving an assault on Lieut. Paula Coughlin, appears to be falling apart. The man charged in the case, Capt. Gregory J. Bonam, a 29-year-old Marine aviator, denies he ever saw her, and he has strong evidence to support his claim that she is confusing him with someone else. As a result, the Pentagon has focused on punishing senior officers who are not charged with any personal involvement but rather a broad concept of being negligent or tolerant of the Tailhook offenses. 

This was an off-duty, off-base event. I should think that Lt. Coughlin would have an understanding of the culture of aircraft carrier pilots. Am I setting too high a standard for Lt. Coughlin, who, if she wanted to be respected as an equal, shouldn't have engaged in leg shaving? Women want to be viewed as tough enough to fly a million dollar piece of equipment and participate in combat missions, yet a real lack of judgment was on display here that undermines our case.

This wasn't like the sexual harassment at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, where a superior/subordinate situation existed between a male drill sergeant and a recruit and the harassment was on the site of the base (and illustrates the challenges of the integrated combat unit). At the time, Cokie Roberts and Senator Olympia Snowe discussed it in a news segment and one of them said we didn't have this problem in mixed sex dorms on university campuses, so therefore, ipso facto we shouldn't have it on our military bases. I don't remember which one of them made the bone-headed comment but it was met with agreement by the other. I sat there in stunned amazement. As if there is an equivalency to civilians in a dorm and recruits in the military, who can't just leave the base in the event of a threatening situation (AWOL, anyone?). It is embarrassing for me as a woman to see how the military has lowered standards to allow women to achieve passing scores. I want to be a 6'4'' Swedish model, but it ain't in the cards. Likewise, if a woman can pass the same tests as a man, put her in the Amazonian Squadron and let women have their own path to top brass rank. If a woman can meet the standard for the mission, then by all means allow her to do so. But mission success should be the focus for military selections and promotions. Don't play the victim card and expect special treatment to achieve the same rank, which seems to be the Sinisterhood SOP.

There is a sober denouement to this whole tale as summarized by Ms. Ogden:

Just how significant was the Tailhook debacle for the recent history of the Navy? While it is impossible to point to causal mechanisms, it is notable that one week after the final DoD Tailhook Report was released, Defense Secretary Aspin issued an order that women be allowed to compete for combat pilot positions, and that they could serve on nearly all naval vessels. Sadly, in October 1994, Lt. Kara Hultgreen, the first woman permitted to fly F-14 Tomcats, died attempting to land her jet off the shores of San Diego on a clear day. Her death intensified the ongoing controversy in the aviation community about differing standards for men and women.

The next thing that captured my attention was, bah-ling, bah-ling, bah-ling... 

The Cop Killer/KKK Bitch Scandal
Cast your mind back to the release of a CD entitled "Body Count" in 1992 with debased language used to describe killing cops in one song and sodomizing twelve-year-old girls in another. There was a debate between those who felt it was a First Amendment issue and therefore was legitimate speech and those who felt it crossed the line and should be challenged. On one side was the Time Warner co-CEO Gerald Levin, who defended the CD, released with the imaginative packaging of miniature body bags, by saying, "For a company like ours to have meaning," he said, "we must help ensure that the voices of the powerless, the disenfranchised, those at the margins are heard." Gee, maybe the Democrats are right, corporations aren't people!

Here are some of the lyrics:

"I I I love my KKK bitch, love it when she sucks me though, I I I love my KKK bitch, love it when she f---s me though, I I I love my KKK bitch, she loves it when I treat her bad, I I I love my KKK bitch, mutha f--k her dear old dad."

"You know what I'm sayin'. So we was down South fallin' in love, you know, D-Roc had this Nazi girl, my man Mooseman had a skinhead, I fell in love with Tipper Gore's two twelve year old nieces. It was wild, you know what I'm sayin', it got even worse, you know."

To her credit, Tipper Gore did forthrightly enter the arena and took on the issue of violence and negative imagery contained in these lyrics. I really appreciated her voice in those days. As the debate raged, I kept waiting on the women's group, NOW, to speak out against the imagery contained in the song. Perhaps they said something in a whisper. I only remember hearing crickets. Instead, there was the female MTV VJ, who justified it, excused it, and gave it a pass, based on artistic license. Who was speaking up for me, a Southern woman who had chosen to go to a high school that was being integrated, who sent her daughters to public schools with a high minority student body, who has never seen, let along heard of a KKK member, but for Democrat Senator Robert Byrd and the nut job in Louisiana? Yes, an old white man by the name of Charlton Heston who had the temerity to read the lyrics of the songs at a Time Warner shareholders' meeting, which had started the whole debate. Heston later recalled, "When I read the lyrics to the waiting press corps, one of them said 'We can't print that.' 'I know,' I replied, 'but Time-Warner's selling it.'" Unfortunately, the Sinisterhood sat this one out.

The Beat Goes On
Fast forward to the present and Sandra Fluke. What is it with this cry baby, who can figure out how to get into one of the most prestigious law schools in the country but can't figure out how to pay for her or her "sisters'" birth control pills? In her speech the to the Democrat Convention, Ms. Fluke said,

Some of you may remember that earlier this year, Republicans shut me out of a hearing on contraception. In fact, on that panel, they didn't hear from a single woman, even though they were debating an issue that affects nearly every woman. Because it happened in Congress, people noticed. But it happens all the time. Many women are shut out and silenced.

First, she is dissembling about the specifics surrounding her non-appearance. The Democrats were attempting to substitute her at the eleventh hour for a witness who had been approved to speak at the hearing. The whole thing was a Pelosi Astroturf event. Then she goes on to relay the Woman As Victim lament.

Even Democrat commentator Kirsten Powers was repulsed by this image as she tweeted the night of her speech,

 I find this speech so offensive as a woman. The idea that women are silenced victims.

What, really, is the difference between Sandra Fluke and Amanda Clayton? To recount, Clayton (recently deceased) is the Michigan woman who won a cool million in the lottery, but failed to report her earnings and continued to receive public assistance in the form of food assistance benefits. Isn't Fluke calling for the same thing? For someone else to pick up the tab?

Ms. Clayton indulged in cheap justification that somebody else should provide for her needs because, to quote her, "I mean, I kind of do [need the money]. I mean, I have no income and I have bills to pay. I have two houses." She received a lump sum payout of S700,000.00, according to the news reports, but felt someone else should help pay for her food.

Actually, Ms. Fluke merits greater disdain, because her education places her and her fellow one percenter classmates in a position of privilege and it's ridiculous for them to freeload on someone else for the cost of their prescription drugs, in an era of economic hardship. They are attending a fine university which provides healthcare services, unlike many deserving young people who aren't able to attend university right now due to the cost. When the American people think about helping unfortunate people with their health care expenses, they aren't thinking about the needs of Georgetown students who need their pills. They're thinking about someone like my sainted widowed friend who worked in the warehouse of a drugstore chain in order to provide health insurance for her and her four children.

A Real Woman, if she is so concerned about these little pill-less foundlings and their plight, would form a non-profit and provide contraceptives at low or no cost… they could call it Planned Parenthood! They wouldn't demand a religious institution give up it's own right to choose. There are hundreds of universities they could have chosen to attend where contraceptives are provided, if this was such a serious issue for them. They would be strong, pro-active problem-solving women, not victims, so please, enough! You're making us all look bad.

And On And On
I was minding my own business, reading the August issue of Elle magazine, and there was an article by Rebecca Traister, seemly insinuating that the underlying motivation for the GOP War on Women is a fear of single women. To quote from Ms. Traister, as painful as it is: 

For a clutch of influential conservatives, a woman who lives, learns, works, earns, socializes, has sex, reproduces-or doesn't reproduce-without a legal tie to a husband represents the larger disruption of male power by women. So terrifying is this figure that those endeavoring to convey the monstrosity of a powerful woman who happens to be married will talk about her as if she's not… 

And further:

Conservatives often portray single women in ways that betray exactly what they fear: loss of control.

Where to begin? First, I'm really annoyed that the magazine I read to find out about the latest beauty creams for wrinkles is giving me wrinkles! Okay, Sinisterhood, does the name "Condoleezza Rice" or maybe "Condi Rice" mean anything to you? Yes, yes, those "wascally wepublicans" are weally scared of single women. That's why Dubya Bush appointed a single woman as his National Security Advisor. Further, who first started appointing women to serious positions? Reagan, with the appointment of Jeane Kirkpatrick as our UN Ambassador.

Conservatives aren't concerned about single women, nor are we afraid of them. Prepare yourself for a shock, Sinisterhood, but many of us conservatives are single women, like a dear friend, who tests missile systems for the military and defines gun control as "hitting your target." What does concern us is single parenthood, for the reasons cited by, among others, Kay Hymowitz of the Manhattan Institute, who writes:

The single-mother revolution has been an economic catastrophe for women. Poverty remains relatively rare among married couples with children; the U.S. census puts only 8.8% of them in that category, up from 6.7% since the start of the Great Recession. But more than 40% of single-mother families are poor, up from 37% before the downturn. In the bottom quintile of earnings, most households are single people, many of them elderly. But of the two-fifths of bottom-quintile households that are families, 83% are headed by single mothers. The Brookings Institution's Isabel Sawhill calculates that virtually all the increase in child poverty in the United States since the 1970s would vanish if parents still married at 1970 rates. 

Back in the day, I came up with what I thought was a catchy question when we women would have our left-right debates over tax issues, "If I have control over my womb, but not my wallet, do I really have control?" It has never caught on, I hate to report.

The Sinisterhood conjure up the boogey man of Todd Akin, Senate candidate, standing between them and their right to control their bodies. I, on the other hand, think of that GSA guy in the bathtub, with the fruity cocktails and a bad hairdo, when I think of the Commissars who will dictate my access to healthcare under Obamacare.

Yes, it may be designed by a thoughtful, knowledgeable bioethicist like Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who has served as Obama's special health care advisor, and I'll even give the Sinisterhood their claim that he's been taken out of context, and is really not recommending rationing for seniors. However, once the Affordable Health Care Act kicks in and the budgetary realities of the cost of Obamacare come home to roost, there will be a whole lot of denying of coverage for certain procedures, because it will be implemented by the no-name, faceless bureaucratic, non-elected/non-accountable men in the bathtub! Witness the peremptory move by the U. S. Preventive Services Task Force to increase the age at which women received mammograms for the early detection of breast cancer, as reported by Danielle Dellorto in a Nov. 16, 2009 story for CNN. As Dr. Otis Brawley, Chief Medical Officer for the American Cancer Society, quipped:

"With its new recommendations, the [task force] is essentially telling women that mammography at age 40 to 49 saves lives; just not enough of them…"

The backlash to this recommendation resulted in an about face… this time. I am also reminded of a conversation I had with a surgical nurse whose Canadian mother was denied a knee replacement surgery by their National Health Service simply due to her age, even though she had a bone on bone condition, hugely painful, and therefore was becoming incapacitated. She was in great health but for this one ailment; however, from a demographic standpoint, the government didn't view someone of her advanced years as a "good investment" for this type of service.

The thinking behind this is described clearly by Dr. Emanuel, who with his co-authors in a Lancet, January 31, 2009 article stated:

Treating 65 year olds differently because of stereotypes or falsehoods would be ageist; treating them differently because they have already had more life-years is not."

Combine this philosophy with the news that HHS Secretary Sebelius is arbitrarily forcing two million seniors into an experimental plan called an ACO, described by John Goodman as "HMO's on steroids." As he recently explained:

Like the traditional HMO, doctors in ACOs will have financial incentives to withhold care (something the American Medical Association used to consider unethical). In most cases, they will get to keep part of any money they don't spend. What makes them different from the traditional HMO is that they will be under intense pressure to practice medicine according to guidelines written by people you will never meet or see.

Actually, we have seen these people. See Bathtub Guy above. We will not have control over our wallets, due to the excessive taxes that will be required to deal with the boatload of debt President Obama is racking up, and soon, we won't have control over our womb or other body parts under Obamacare. There are going to be a whole lot of old biddies like me, who will clog up the actuarial chart by outliving our "life-years," to use Dr. Emanuel's expression. Or, to conjure up a quote, that Charlton Heston might have made, "Soylent Green is Seniors!"

The Sinisterhood is worried about the wrong things. They don't think women are smart enough to see through the fake reform of Dodd-Frank, which hurts small banks, exempts Fannie and Freddie, and may make those "too big to fail" banks even bigger. Or smart enough to get a photo ID, in order to vote or access the Democratic Convention. Or even smart enough to do the math and figure that by foregoing eight grande skinny lattes a month, you can afford to pay for your own damn pills.

Like I said, this is a tough time to be a woman.

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About the Author
Melissa O'Sullivan writes from a conservative woman's perspective on a myriad of topics from Decatur, Alabama.